Abstract: Background/Aims: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a global health problem. In addition to the implementation of universal hepatitis B vaccination, effective and individualized treatment of chronic hepatitis B to prevent progression into end-stage liver diseases and hepatocellular carcinoma is still needed. HBV has been designated eight genotypes (A–H) based on genome sequence divergence. The epidemiology of HBV genotypes and their implications on the responses to antiviral therapy have become increasingly recognized in both Asian and Western countries.
Methods: Published data are thus reviewed.
Results: Each genotype has its distinct geographical and ethnic distribution. Genotypes A and D occur frequently in Africa, Europe, and India, while genotypes B and C are prevalent in Asia. Genotype E is restricted to West Africa, and genotype F is found in Central and South America. The distribution of genotypes G and H is less clear. Accumulating evidence indicates a better sustained response to conventional interferon in patients with genotype B than those with C, and in patients with genotype A than those with D. In contrast, conflicting results exist regarding the response to pegylated interferon. On the other hand, the therapeutic responses to nucleoside/nucleotide analogues are comparable among patients with different HBV genotypes. The impact of HBV subgenotypes, mixed genotype infections, and recombinants of different genotypes on the response to antiviral treatments awaits further examinations.
Conclusion: Remarkable clinical and pathogenic differences do exist among HBV genotypes; however, researches on molecular and virologic mechanisms underlying the clinical phenotypes of different HBV genotypes are urgently needed.